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Learning Disability Week: reminding us to reconnect

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Autism strategy, Care and support, Carers, learning disabilities
smiling man with a learning disability
Like all of us, people with learning disabilities need support to reconnect with a reopened society. [Image copyright Mencap]

Celebrating and supporting diversity

In an ideal world, there would be no need for awareness days, weeks and months. There would be no marginalisation, misrepresentation or ignorance, just open societies, fully supportive of the diversity of the human condition.

Of course, we don’t live in this utopian state of grace, which is why it is so important health and care issues continue to have their moments in the sun.

Learning Disability Week is no different. Like many awareness raising events this year, there is a focus on post-pandemic reconnection. People with learning disabilities and those who support them continue to process the difficulties of the last two years and reacquaint themselves with society.

As care workers, we saw first-hand how day to day challenges became further complicated by the restrictions of lockdown. Often, I suspect, we felt a little helpless as we saw those who needed human connection the most, forced to isolate to protect themselves and others. It was necessary of course to save lives, but we couldn’t help but empathise with their distress – we felt that same worry, anxiety and loss in our own lives.

Couple holding hands in green meadow.
"We must be educators as much as carers, helping people navigate sometimes complex processes in order to stay safe and connected." [Image created by]

The pandemic's lingering effects

I feel it’s so important we keep these shared experiences in our minds as we continue to support people with learning disabilities. The pandemic may have dropped down the news agenda, but it continues to affect all our lives, sometimes in subtle ways we may not always be conscious of.

Day to day, while our support will always be emotionally and physically enabling, we still need to focus on areas of critical care, such as infection prevention and control (IPC). This is not just important in clinical or managed care settings, but in domiciliary care and other environments where we strive to maintain an individual’s autonomy and safety. In this respect, we must be educators as much as carers, helping people navigate sometimes complex processes in order to stay safe and connected.

We would be failing in our duties as professional carers if we didn’t do what we can to help people with learning disabilities live full, happy and satisfying lives. Learning Disability Week is an opportunity to remind us all of their incredible potential to thrive and our responsibility to help them do just that.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Simon Burdis posted on

    This all confirms the need for more care villages and intentional communities of attachment with housing for people with disabilities, older people, care staff, volunteers and family carers on the same campus type setting so families may receive as much or as little support as required in their caring duties.
    More families are having to cope with complex multiple intergenerational health and care needs within the same family and want to continue living together as a family with the choice of contributing full time or part time to meeting the health and social care needs of their relatives and / or of being involved in full or part time employment and or training / further education or voluntarily contributing to the functioning of the care village / intentional community.
    Volunteers should include young professionals in training for the caring professions. They should be offered free accommodation and board in exchange for donating a minimum number of hours to the functioning of the care village intentional community.
    Eventually, it should be a mandatory requirement for doctors, nurses, other health professionals, social workers, teachers, music, art and horticultural therapists to spend time living and working within a care village, intentional community / residential special school, etc as an essential part of their pre- / post - , continuing professional development.
    This would dramatically improve the status and quality of care work and improve the understanding of young professionals for the needs of vulnerable people and their families.
    It could help to begin to address the adult social care staffing crisis, end loneliness and isolation for both vulnerable people and care workers alike.